A photograph of a teenager girl wearing a vr headset and playing a virtual reality game at home.

The intersection with the metaverse opens up a new path forward for retailers and brands

As consumers invest more in their digital identities, they buy more digital products and spend more time on digital experiences. These digital identities are becoming as important as their physical selves, merging digital and physical worlds.

Fundamentally, as consumers spend more time in new digital spaces, brands and retailers need to be there too. But it’s not just about being present. The Metaverse offers unprecedented opportunities to create unique and differentiated experiences to engage consumers and build brand excitement, goodwill and trust. Otherwise there is a risk of irrelevance.

The metaverse is still taking shape and brands still have the power to expand their offerings. Here are four considerations when creating a meta-first strategic roadmap to steer the future:

1. Focus on developing brand relevance for tomorrow’s consumers

Gen Z and Gen Alpha are already spending increasing amounts of time delving into aspects of the metaverse. As they get older and the metaverse grows, their involvement will likely increase. As they become economically empowered in the years to come, time spent in the metaverse will make up a significant portion of their wallets. To be relevant in the future, brands need to lay the groundwork now to understand new consumer preferences and prepare their business for the metaverse. That means putting these consumers at the heart of the planning of every Metaverse experience and product created. This focus should be embedded in a broader business plan to increase brand awareness. This will secure brand equity and evolve the company’s value proposition to align with a future, ‘phygital’ (physical and digital) strategy and create a consistent digital identity across these new platforms.

Build policies that protect and govern the use of consumer data and brand IP—these new channels and products are still nascent and present new cybersecurity risks that leaders need to understand and mitigate.

2. Be proactive in engaging with digital consumer communities

Positioning the metaverse in the context of a new retail and social channel can help you get the big picture. As new communities emerge and interact in the metaverse, brands must find ways to identify with and engage with them through a medium that represents the next generation of the web and complements existing mobile, social and media channels Voice commerce combines and goes beyond.

To create intimacy and a new level of experience, don’t just try to replicate physical stores with product lines or numerous brand options in a virtual world. Collaborating with and developing communities around brands and experiences to enable co-creation requires companies to open their systems to communities of developers who drive innovation and enable the development of new applications and products. This participation is rewarded with new forms of payment and digital rights to ensure communities share in the value they create while protecting brand rights. Co-creators can become strong brand ambassadors.

3. Be open to creating viable new revenue streams

Digital products are already a multi-billion dollar business. Creating innovative, profitable revenue streams with the potential for sustainable, long-term growth is critical. For example, NFTs are already generating revenue and providing a gateway for consumer brands to tap into the metaverse and redefine what consumer loyalty can mean in the future. These avenues could help you earn royalties through resales in secondary markets, much like video games are increasingly released for free but encouraged through in-game purchases.

The Metaverse also opens up new avenues of value in the data it generates – resulting in an exponential increase in the ability to capture and understand consumer behavior. This will increase the value of commerce or use data to better segment, target and personalize individual consumers. However, as consumers come to terms with managing their own digital identities, that relationship will grow and trust will be required for data to benefit both the brand and the consumer.

4. Be creative in unlocking operational benefits from virtualization

The expansion into the metaverse requires efficient processes that are prepared for the virtual world and a rethinking of the value chain. It also provides opportunities to enhance your employees’ experience and operations.

The metaverse is not limited to the consumer experience; As the consumer metaverse evolves, so will the industrial metaverse, providing environments for visualizing processes in virtual reality and understanding system inefficiencies, enabling remote collaboration of design teams, supporting inventory management or simulating a manufacturing process and deals with IP rights and control issues.

Use the Metaverse as an opportunity to make your business more effective while potentially reducing risk.

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